3.5BN Debt: ‘Your Plans to Subvert Supreme Court Judgment, Exercise in Futility’ – Oyo Ex-Council Chiefs Tell Makinde

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…say they are committed to rule of law

Local Government chairmen and councillors under the administration of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi have reiterated their commitment to the rule of law to collect their entitlements from Governor Seyi Makinde.

The sacked chairmen and councillors under the aegis of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), in their reaction to a recent media chat by Governor Seyi Makinde, said that they have been inundated with calls and threat from those close to the governor that they will leverage on the personal relationship of the governor and the CJN to get an upturn of the judgment which favoured the sacked council bosses.

Speaking on behalf of the group on Wednesday at a press conference, Prince Abass-Alesinloye, reiterated their belief in the judiciary and particularly the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court as the hope of the common man.

Governor Makinde at a media chat had said that he would deal with sacked council bosses, saying that he would not abide by a recent court ruling until he gets another judgement.

Abass-Aleshinloye, however, said that the CJN just like other justices of the Apex court and the entire judiciary have proved to be unbiased and impartial umpire in every matter the group had taken before them and as such has no cause to be afraid of anything.

The group asked the governor to obey the Supreme Court judgement, which asked him to pay their entitlements rather than threatening to deal with them.

Abass-Aleshinloye said that it beats that imagination that Governor Makinde would go to a media chat to deceive the citizens of the state.

“It is no longer news that our governor, His Excellency Oluseyi Makinde, promised to deal with us in his media chat on Saturday, December 23, 2023. We are not in doubt that His Excellency is the Governor of Oyo State, but we wrongfully assumed that he was elected to govern and not to deal with any of the citizens of the state.

“Surprisingly, His Excellency’s priority now is to deal with everyone who is legitimately seeking redress for a perceived wrong. His Excellency promised to deal with the Princes of Ogbomoso and now the ex-LG Chairmen. We only hope this act of dealing with us doesn’t include killing or harming any one of us. We wish to say with all emphasis that we are proud to say that each and every one of us grew up with a training to fear Almighty God, respect the law and to always follow due process.”

According to Aleshinloye, it is regrettable that Makinde does not understand the history of the state he is governing.

“At no point in time did Governor Alao-Akala dissolve any elected or caretaker chairmen and councillors. It was the High Court of Oyo State, presided over by Honourable Justice Afolabi Adeniran (now retired) that dissolved the said local government chairmen. So, the dissolution under late Governor Alao-Akala was a judicial pronouncement and not executive recklessness like it was under Governor Seyi Makinde.

“Coming to Governor Ajimobi, he met on ground selected caretaker committee, and as a believer in the rule of law, he did not dissolve the caretaker committee. Indeed, upon the expiration of their six-month tenure granted to them by the immediate past House of Assembly, Governor Ajimobi forwarded their names to the then House of Assembly for renewal.

“But the House of Assembly turned it down. We hereby challenge Governor Makinde who claimed to be the only wise man in the state, why he referred to us, the ex-LG councillors and chairmen as “Jankara elements” to contradict this simple history.

“We say, with all emphasis at our disposal, that Governor Makinde is not paying any purportedly dissolved local government chairmen or councillors be it by either Late Governor Ajimobi or Late Governor Alao-Akala, both of blessed memory,” the former ALGON chairman said.

Aleshinloye noted that the court that ordered Makinde to pay them was the Supreme Court of Nigeria and not any other court, emphasising that the governor’s contention that he is going back to Supreme Court is a clear deception and deliberate misinformation.

“The Supreme Court gave its judgement on May 7, 2021, a day which it equally gave a similar judgement against the Governor of Katsina State. It suffice to say the latter has since complied with the judgement of the Supreme Court,” he said.

The former ALGON boss recalled how the Supreme Court condemned Makinde for his executive recklessness, stressing that the apex court did not only ask the governor to pay within three months, but equally ordered the Attorney General to file affidavit of compliance on or before August 7, 2021.

“We equally wish to say with emphasis that affidavit of compliance was filed by the then Solicitor General of the state, who is now an Honourable Judge of the High Court of Justice of Oyo State.

“Notwithstanding the filing of the said affidavit of compliance, the state still refused to pay our money. And knowing fully well the capacity of His Excellency to intimidate, and on a proper legal advice, we took the decision to enforce our judgement outside Oyo State.

“Hence, we approached the High Court of FCT for enforcement after we had registered the judgement as a judgement of FCT. After all, the Ogbomoso example is a clear confirmation of our fear. We also say with emphasis that no judge in the High Court of Justice of Oyo State dismissed any of our cases. Rather, the High Court of Justice of Oyo State granted our claims,” he said.

Aleshinloye challenged Makinde to produce any order of dismissal from Oyo State High Court.

He further stated that the former Attorney General of Oyo State wrote to the lawyers of the ex-council officials stating the amount to be paid, and that the same would be paid within six months.

“It was in the course of the enforcement that the state brought an application that they would be paying us N300 million every six months and to which we vehemently opposed. It should be noted that the entire N3.4 billion is just about N4 million per head across all of us. The High Court of FCT in its wisdom directed that they should pay N1.3 billion forthwith on April 27, 2023 and to continue to pay N500 million quarterly commencing from July 31, 2023.

“The said N1.3 billion was made absolute against First Bank of Nigeria Plc. Thus, the issue before the courts in the 2nd phase of the journey of our case is the proprietary or otherwise of the failure of the Governor and Attorney General to comply with the judgement of the Supreme Court be it as ordered by the High Court of FCT or as ordered by the Supreme Court itself,” he said.

While explaining that the Court of Appeal dismissed the governor’s appeal on December 8, 2023, Aleshinloye said that the High Court of FCT also gave a consequential order to the effect that where any installment payment is due and same remain unpaid for seven days, the total entire balance shall be deemed to have been due for payment.

“After the dismissal of their appeal at the Court of Appeal, they did not serve our lawyers with any Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court until December 18, 2023 and that was three clear days after we had obtained a garnishee order against their accounts in 10 different banks and 10 clear days after their appeal had been dismissed by the Court of Appeal. His Excellency knows that the Supreme Court which ordered him to pay in the first place can no longer order him not to pay, this is just an exercise in futility.

“Contrary to the boasting of His Excellency that he isn’t going to pay a dime, it is necessary to remind him that the N1.3 billion made absolute by the High Court of FCT isn’t in his hand but in the hand of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

“The bank has written two letters to this effect. It may be that His Excellency is getting commission from the wrongful usage of the said money by First Bank of Nigeria Plc, but certainly the money isn’t with the state. We assure His Excellency that Almighty God Who has taken us this far shall certainly by His special grace see us through.

“His Excellency’s threats are well noted, we will cause petition to be written to relevant authorities. We noticed that his deputy had earlier in the course of acting for the state in the presence of Attorney General and others issued violent threats to our lead counsel. We assure them that we have the rule of law and Almighty God on our side.

“It should be noted that we had earlier written an open letter to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to persuade His Excellency to obey the highest court of the land, but this has not yielded any fruit. Notwithstanding the fact that we have lost not less than 27 members due to their inability to spend peanuts on their health, the conscience of His Excellency is unmoved.

“Rather, he wants as many people as possible to die before complying with the order of the Supreme Court. Although, we notice he said we are fools and that he will deal with us, we make bold to say that not even a Magistrate Court has condemned any of us in the manner the apex court of the land has condemned Governor Makinde.

“We leave it to the conscience of every reasonable man to judge who does not fear Almighty God and have respect for the rule of law between us and His Excellency,” Abass-Alesinloye added.

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